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grope (n.)

c. 1500, "act of groping," from grope (v.). Old English had grap "a grasp."

grope (v.)

late Old English grapian "to feel about (as one blind or in darkness)," also "take hold of, seize, touch, attain," related to gripan "grasp at" (see gripe (v.)). Transitive sense "search out by sense of touch alone" was in late Old English. Figurative sense is from early 14c. Indecent sense "touch (someone) amorously, play with, fondle" (marked as "obsolete" in OED 2nd edition) is from c. 1200. Related: Groped; groping.